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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fixing At The London Olympics?


Badminton competition of the London Olympics-2012 has come under a cloud of match fixing after two women’s doubles matches played yesterday. This is an unprecedented trend affecting the most ancient Games on earth. And this is very worrisome too.

The fixing charges involve eight women badminton players—the World Champion pair from China, two pairs from South Korea and one pair from Indonesia. The Badminton competition is being played on a round robin basis for the first time at the London Olympics. All these teams have qualified for the quarter finals and so they allegedly tried to manipulate their preliminary matches so that they avoid meeting their respective compatriots in the semi finals.

The two matches involving China and South Korea and then South Korea and Indonesia had been reduced to farces yesterday with all players trying to miss the shots in a desperate attempt to lose. The crowds too sensed the farce and began jeering at the players. Badminton World Federation (BWF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took very serious view of the scenario and considered taking extreme steps like expelling all eight players involved. If it happens it would devastate the Badminton competition and if it does not the Games would earn an unprecedented bad name. The IOC said that extreme action was necessary to prevent such tendencies to discredit the Games and warned that if the BWF did not come up with preventive measures it would step in on its own.

After the charges there had been a game of passing the buck with the South Korean players alleging the Chinese started and instigated it first and therefore they followed suit or retaliated. The common objective for both the teams was ominously clear though.

Fixing has come to be inseparable from cricket thanks to the Indian or the Indian sub continental links to it. India has given cricket ‘big money’ and along with the latter invented the art of fixing! You may rather call it as a post-modern art with two pristine varieties-match fixing and spot fixing. Betting has been an integral part of the whole process with a huge network of agents, bookies and pimps. Fortunately, the specter of betting has not so far been confirmed in the London Olympics scenario.

Any threat of fixing to this most ancient Games of mankind must be nipped in the bud. It does not matter how rigorous or extreme the punishment be. On the other hand, like in cricket, there are powerful vested interests and a whole array of commercial interests here too. History, reputation, spirit of competition, national and international ambitions, commerce and business are all mixed in an extremely complex web. Finally, the ‘will’ may not be strong enough to upturn the cart of interests.

The sports fans can only wait and watch.

PS:  A few hours later the BWF had in fact disqualified all the involved eight players after holding an inquiry. This means all eight champion players from three countries are ousted from London Olympics-2012. Though this will impact the Badminton matches, the action is quick and praiseworthy. Bravo!


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